Tiffani Lewis’ teammates suppress knowing giggles as Utah gymnastics coach Tom Farden describes the senior’s fiery personality in a postmeet news conference.

Their teammate, they know, is a bit unusual. Rather than playing the usual formalities so common in collegiate gymnastics, Lewis is known for her competitiveness. Don’t be mistaken — she is nice. Just don’t challenge her to a card game or anything where there is a winner.

“She’s going to win,” teammate Kari Lee said. “She is the type of person who doesn’t go into anything unless she thinks she is going to win. She just hates losing.”

That trait has proven invaluable to the Utes, particularly in the postseason.

Lewis, one of the Utes’ most consistent competitors, always seems to find an extra edge in the end-of-season run.

It was no surprise that she led off the Utes’ Pac-12 Championship competition with a 9.85 on the uneven bars as she tried to set the night’s tone with a perfectly stuck routine.

“I wanted it to be like last year where we got started off with a bang,” she said. “Unfortunately it didn’t quite work out like last year, but you hope you can have a big routine to start off with and develop from there.”

Lewis will give it her best shot again Saturday, when the Utes host the NCAA Regionals. The fourth-ranked Utes will compete against No. 9 California, No. 16 Auburn, No. 21 Brigham Young, Stanford and Southern Utah beginning at 4 p.m. in the Huntsman Center.

The top two teams advance to the NCAA Championships on April 20 and 21 in St. Louis.

Getting the Utes back to the NCAA Championships has been a team and personal goal for Lewis. Utah placed a disappointing fifth at nationals last season, and finishing her career with a better showing is a big deal for her.

She hopes to lead with her tendency to thrive in the postseason. Lewis has won Pac-12 titles on the vault and floor, and was a second-team NCAA all-American on vault in 2017 and a second-team all-Pac-12 selection on vault and floor. She had season highs on all three events in the NCAA Super Six as a freshman.

“I’m always competitive, but I love competing against teams we don’t see in the regular season,” she said about her postseason success. “It gives everything more of an edge.”

Her fiery spirit could be just what the Utes need to lift up their gymnastics a notch. Even though they finished a disappointing second at the Pac-12 Championships, their score was the fourth-highest in the country out of the conference championships, an indication to coach Megan Marsden that the Utes remain a viable threat to win the NCAA title.

Marsden is looking to Lewis to help improve the Utes’ performances.

“She has such a competitive spirit about her that when it comes time to compete, I want her on my team,” Marsden said. “She loves to win. When things are on the line, she is at her best. She wants our team to be the one finishing at the top.”

Lewis competes on everything except the balance beam. In addition to being the leadoff on the bars, she is the leadoff on floor and competes third on the vault. The Utes have her in those spots because of her consistency. She is 33 of 33 in hit routines this season and 130 of 133 during her career.

While the Utes missed out on the Pac-12 title, Lewis hopes she can help her team finish the season with a big showing at the NCAAs. First they need to get there.

“Regionals need to be a good meet for us,” Lewis said. “This is the most important part of the season coming up, and we need to be at our best.”

Lewis almost always is.

TIFFANI LEWIS

Year • Senior

Height • 5 foot 4

Hometown • Las Vegas

Of note • 2017 NCAA All-American on vault. … Two-time Pac-12 champion on floor and vault. … Three-time All-Pac-12 Conference. … Has hit 33 of 33 routines this season and is 130 of 133 during her career. … Six career victories. … Member of the Gymnastics Leadership Committee.

NCAA REGIONALS

When • 4 p.m. Saturday

Where • Huntsman Center, Salt Lake City

Teams • No. 4 Utah, No. 9 California, No. 16 Auburn, No. 21 Brigham Young, Stanford, Southern Utah

TV • None

Radio • ESPN 700